Dec 18, 2014

Exclusively Pumping, Momma's new journey

They never tell you how hard breastfeeding is. You buy the bras and tank tops -- and read all the different articles you can find online and you think you're prepared. But then it's 2am...and you're paging the nurse again because the baby won't nurse and you're exhausted because you just had a  baby and you can't believe they expect so much of you ALREADY...Can I get a break? And then the nurse tells the baby has lost more weight than expected and asks you to supplement and you're exhausted so you say screw it, give her the bottle. BUT then she reacts to the formula and is super gassy - which makes the day so much fun. So then you get a new nurse and a new lactation consultant and they give you totally different advice from the nurse on the previous shift and you're having this W.T.F. moments.

So it's checkout day...and you still feel confused but you do it. You leave and you get home...and it's a nightmare. The baby won't nurse and you call your mom in tears and ask can they please come up and help. And you can't remember why you wanted to become a parent.

Finally it's day break and you're engorged because your beautiful little girl won't nurse. Magic...."Sara, what about the pump?" "Jason, you're brilliant...set it up."

And your life changes.

Can I do this full time? Will I make enough milk? Am I the ONLY person who does this? Shit man, am I going to not bond as much with the baby?...And a million other awful thoughts about what the hell this does to my life, my body...and my baby.

So I started to talking to other moms -- and well, I was lucky. "As long as she's getting breastmilk" was my overwhelming response. A lot of moms are met with resistance and frustration. So after a few posts, a couple of moms pointed me in the direction of a few groups for just women who exclusively pumped or "EP" for short. I was blown away. The one group had over 3000 women!! So I was like I can do this. I started researching and discovered that there was so much more information and options and way more support to do this than I thought.

So what was my plan? I bought flanges that fit better. I bought more bottles on Amazon at an amazing price and I started asking all these moms what I should do. I struggled for the first few weeks, getting my supply up. Dealing with having to pump every 2 hours religiously but I was rewarded when my supply kept going up and up. I was able to start freezing some bags away and able to make bottles for the day, the next day and the day after that. It became a mental savior. I still had plenty left to learn - but I was on a happier track. I filled my freezer so we had to get a deep freezer but I was so happy to have learned about this fantastic option. Almost 10 months later, I've been able to donate 2,100 oz and save 2,000 and now am able to wean off the pump and go solely off of frozen milk to get A to her first birthday

Some women will claim you cannot get a bond with your baby like this but that is very wrong. My daughter and I have plenty of mommy/daughter time. She loves to fall asleep on mommy - and well hey, look at the grip below on my arm when I feed her.

I am very happy with my choice. Sometimes I feel like a cow but I know in my heart I made the right decision for myself and my family. People think its weird "have you tried to get her back to the breast" no! "why not just formula?" Oh, are you paying for it? But I am so lucky - my husband stands by my side and tells me all the time how proud he is of me. Frankly I'm proud of me to.

Now here is how I did it.

If you have any questions please feel free to comment below or email me!

So you want to Exclusively Pump?

Here are some tips, a shopping list, the names of some Facebook support groups, sites to check out and some other general information. Please note that you may not need all the items on the shopping list for the entire duration. For example, I stopped taking Fenugreek about two months into my pumping journey. There are also other supplements that you can use to increase your supply; however, I am only comfortable relaying what I personally used. 

disclaimer: there are teas and supplements on this list. please consult a doctor before taking anything

Shopping List:
  • Breastpump (per Obamacare, insurance should cover the cost of a pump)
  • Mother's Milk Tea (2-3 times a day)
  • Fenugreek
  • Lactation Cookies 
  • Extra Medela bottles -- OR whatever brand bottles of the breastpump you use 
  • Breastmilk storage bags (brands include: Nuk, Honeysuckle, Lansinoh)
  • Container to store milk in, in the refrigerator 
    • I bought a glass mason jar at Michaels and I have a Nalgene bottle for travel. Make sure whatever you choose seals and is BPA free
  • Enough bottles for a few days (don't go out and buy a ton -- buy one pack or borrow from a family member or friend and try it out) 
    • We currently use Playtex Drop-Ins after initially starting with a different brand. I really like these because they use drop-in liners so they are easy to buy used. I bought a huge pack off Craigs List and just sterilized and purchased new nipples!
  • Boppy 
    • I use the Boppy to feed A at the same time I am pumping, sure there are times where it's not needed but I am definitely glad we got this 
  • Fisher Price Sit Me Up
    • Personally a lot of moms believe this is better than the Bumbo due to recent studies that have come out (do your research kids) however, I found that when A wasn't having it to just chill while I pumped or did over things, she LOVED this. I now recommend it to all my friends

Facebook Groups:

  • Exclusively Pumping Mamas
  • Exclusively Pumping Moms Private Group
  • Exclusively Pumping: Breastfeeding without nursing
  • EP Trading Post (where you can buy/sell/trade for various items)
    • And various others...simply search "exclusively pumping" and most of these should populate. I should note that some of the groups allow part-time pumpers or moms who only pump at work. If you are looking for an ONLY EP group, the second group is the one to search for

Also check out KellyMom it has a ton of information on all sorts of topics

my little award, 10 months of actual pumping, 2 months (hopefully) of frozen milk

Pump on ladies, pump on.

Aug 11, 2014

Mommy Wars: An Intro to the Madness


No matter what stage of life you are in, there will undoubtedly be people with opinions - whether you ask for advice and whether it's advice that you want. In the realm of moms, you have no idea what you are up against until you are actually in it. Breastmilk vs Formula, Cloth vs Disposable diapers, CIO vs AP and the list goes on and on. Granted I've only been a month for less than 6 months but truly - and it frankly disgusts me the amount of fighting, making moms feeling bad about each other (sanctimommy-ing), and boasting about how great of a parent they are. 

I've always felt like in my life, I've incurred more opinions that a lot of people based on my life choices and things that have happened to me. When I was 14 my brother passed away, and someone actually uttered the phrase "aren't you over that by now? My brother died when I was 1 and I'm fine." When I married a Jew - we lost the priest a few weeks before the wedding over paperwork. When we chose to get our daughter both Christened and receive her Hebrew baby name - I know we were judged for trying to figure out how to do both. And now, just recently I blasted for getting my daughter's ears pierced. Why do we spend the energy to judge harshly others decisions? 

As the mommy wars rage on, I am constantly perplexed and amazed by how little slack we cut each other as women. We see disapproval in the eyes of other mothers when we say how long we breastfed (Too long? Not long enough?), or whether we have decided to go back to work versus stay home. Is it not hard enough to attempt to raise children thoughtfully, while contributing something, or bringing home some (or more) of the bacon? Why do we feel so entitled to opine, often so negatively, on the choices of other women? Perhaps because there is so much pressure to do it all, and do it all well all at the same time (impossible). - Gwyneth Paltrow
Over the next few weeks I will be getting into some of the topics that plague the mommy wars, why they rage on and lastly, my thoughts on how we can stop it. 

“The smug sense of superiority that comes from denigrating another mother’s values can be very seductive,” says Judith Stadtman Tucker of The Mothers Movement Online, a national organization for mothers to discuss social change. “Over and over again, that’s exactly where mothers get hung up.” -via

Aug 10, 2014

ChaLean Extreme, Shakeology and 100 Happy Days

This week I started on my body makeover challenge. Over the last few months I have tried to loose the baby weight and get back into healthy shape - but with the baby, it's been really difficult. I started the Couch to 5K program and while I really enjoyed it - I didn't feel like it was something I could really commit to. I have been signed up for Weight Watchers but frankly, with being at home...I can't remember to ever log I get sad reminders everyday to track it.

So I went in search of a program or weight loss program that I had hoped would work. I started looking into Herbalife -- I talked to a few friends on Facebook but in truth, I really wanted to sample a product out before spending the kind of money it entailed. I know a lot of friends who have had amazing results with it. But I shelved that idea...and kept looking. Until my friend Meg (hi Meg!) posted asking if anyone wanted to try samples of Shakeology and I jumped at the chance to be able to try the product before getting it.

I was pleased more than I thought I would be. Both the chocolate and vanilla flavors were absolutely delicious! I did some more research and discovered you can order something called a "challenge pack" - which is a month of Shakeology and a workout routine from Team Beachbody! After much discussion with  my hubs...I decided to take the plunge and order the ChaLean Extreme Challenge pack with vanilla bag of Shakeology!

Which leads me to this - I am doing the hashtag journey of #100happydays and why I decided to jump in. The ChaLean Extreme workout is 90 days - so I figured I would give this a try and share something that makes me happy everyday! I am truly hoping that I can complete this workout and frankly...feel badass while getting back into shape! I am super excited -- and actually already on day 6! Follow me here...yay! I love sharing photos and well hey, it gives me an excuse to post a photo everyday! Haha

So join me. Start a new workout today. Join the hashtag frenzy --- and find something about your diet and change it. I stopped drinking Pepsi...and I miss it already.


Aug 7, 2014


As an exclusive pumper for the last 5 1/2 months, I must say I've come to grow tired of so many different questions and opinions about what I do for my kid. The truth is - it's no one else's business, so naturally...everyone has an opinion. 

Check out this other bloggers post...

Reposted with permission from original blogger. 

Mommas become exclusive pumpers by one of two ways: by choice or by necessity. Those who choose to pump might be doing it because they don’t like the idea of nursing, but they still want to give their babies the benefits of breastmilk. Mothers of multiples might prefer pumping because they can pump milk for all of their babies at each pumping session instead of nursing babies one at a time. Maybe it’s because they’ve dealt with abuse in their past that makes it difficult to nurse for psychological reasons. Or perhaps its because they prefer to know exactly how much their babies are eating at every meal. Those of us who found ourselves here unexpectedly pump because our babies had latch issues, were premature and unable to be held or nurse while they were in the NICU, were born with conditions like cleft lips that made nursing impossible, or had severe illnesses or medical needs that made nursing difficult, etc. Either way, it is a very personal decision and sometimes we get a little sensitive to what people say to us. So please, think before you say any of the following:

1. Well have you tried ___?
First of all, we probably didn’t ask you for your opinion. And secondly, whatever you’re about to suggest, we promise you we tried it. That one nursing position that is so comfortable for your little one? Yep, tried it. That expert you swear performs miracles? Saw her. Or maybe we couldn’t afford to see her. Bait and switch? Trying to nurse in the shower? Begging, pleading with our littles ones to just make it work? Yes, all of it. Trust me, if we wanted to nurse, we probably didn’t turn to pumping with open arms and without trying to make it work somehow.
2. It’s not really breastfeeding.
Oh, but it is. Exclusive pumping gives babies all of the same amazing benefits of breastmilk that nursing does. Both are different forms of breastfeeding. We may not be breastfeeding in the traditional sense, but that’s still what we’re doing.
3. You should have tried harder.
No one likes a quitter, right? Telling me that I should have tried harder implies that I failed. Or that I didn’t care enough to try harder. When Liam and I were working with a lactation consultant, I asked her if there were any babies that weren’t able to successfully nurse. Oh, we have a great success rate, she said. The only times we haven’t been able to get a baby back to breast is when their parents give up trying. Well that makes me feel good. It’s not that we didn’t try hard enough or that we quit, it’s that we chose to end the tears and frustration and reclaim some of our sanity. When I finally made the decision to stop trying to get Liam to latch, this cloud that had hovered over our momma-baby relationship was lifted. He was much happier and eventually, so was I.
4. Just put him to breast. He’ll nurse.
While some mommas and babies begin their nursing journey very easily, it’s not that way for everyone. Just because nursing is natural doesn’t mean that babies automatically know what to do as soon as they’re born. It can take time or sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. It’s a little more complex than just holding a baby next to your chest.
5. Just switch to formula already if it’s so hard.
There is nothing wrong with formula. It’s not poison. It gives babies the nutrition they need when mommas choose not to breastfeed or when breastfeeding isn’t an option. But for some mommas, breastfeeding is something that was really important to us. So even though pumping exclusively is hard and we hate it, we take pride in knowing that we’re able to provide breastmilk for our babies.
7. You have to pump again?
Does the baby have to eat again? Then yes, we have to pump again. We don’t hook ourselves up to a breast pump because we love it. Those with oversupply can get away with pumping fewer times a day, but for many of us, we have to pump each time baby eats or order to have enough for the next feeding. With a newborn, that means every two hours during the day and every three hours at night. Skipping a pump means there might not be enough milk for baby’s next feeding. Waiting too long between pumps puts us at risk for clogged ducts and mastitis.
8. Pumping is so much more convenient – you can pump on your own schedule and anyone can feed baby.
This is only partly true. Yes, anyone can feed baby. And yes, our pumping schedules don’t always have to line up exactly with baby’s feeding schedule. We can pump in the car or fit in pumping sessions during naps, between appointments or after baby’s asleep for the night. But it also means that when we leave the house, we have to remember bottles, milk, ice packs, coolers, our pump parts, pump and the car adaptor or battery pack that makes it work. When pumping at home, we’re trying to juggle taking care of our babies and anything that needs to be done around the house with our pumping schedules. Nap times aren’t always predictable. When Liam was little, he would nap anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours. There were times where I had just sat down to pump and he was awake again. Or I was only halfway through an hour-long pumping session and had to stop before I was completely empty. We don’t pump on our own schedule – that’s dictated mostly by our babies. And some days it’s hard to make the necessary time for it. Many of us do not choose to pump exclusively out of convenience and really struggle with the burden of managing it all, especially when it’s not what we wanted in the first place.
9. Poor baby…he’s missing out on all that bonding time.
If you missed my post from yesterday where I talk about bonding with baby, you can read it HERE.
10. At least you can breastfeed. Not everyone gets to, you know. 
You’re right. We are blessed to be able to do this for our babies. We understand that there are circumstances where mommas want to be able to breastfeed and it’s not an option for them. We understand what it’s like to want something and not be able to have it happen. There will always be someone in a worse situation than ours. But that doesn’t have to void our feelings about our own situations or invalidate our grief over the loss of a nursing relationship.

How you can support exclusive pumpers instead:
  • Tell us what a good job we’re doing.
  • Help us find time to pump during the day, which may mean taking care of baby or getting dinner on the table.
  • Encourage us to keep going because you know it’s important for us to do, despite how difficult it is.
  • When we get excited about how much we pumped or how we figured out to do a certain task while pumping, celebrate with us.
  • Remind us how much our little ones are benefitting from all of our hard work.
  • Hug us when we cry. Sometimes that’s all we need.
World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7. During this time, and National Breastfeeding Month, is when we celebrate and support mothers who are breastfeeding their babies and to promote awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding. I fully support mommas giving their babies the nourishment they need by whatever means they can, whether by choice or circumstance. This is not meant to be a breastmilk vs. formula debate, because I believe that healthy babies AND mommas trump the pros and cons of either. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing pieces of our breastfeeding story and my experience of pumping exclusively. 

And don't forget to support all momma's out there !

Miss Audrey girl & her bottle. Look at that grip on my arm

Aug 6, 2014

Curbing Cravings

disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional. Before making any drastic lifestyle and nutritional changes please consult your doctor

If you're well...human. It is quite natural to have food cravings. Oreos, cake, soda - you name it. You probably crave it and well, it's probably bad for you. But we all deal with it, some have more of an issue with it than others...but we will all have a time in our lives where we are sitting in the corner eating a sleeve of Oreos.


So what can you do? After I had our daughter, I found that pumping out 60 oz/a day leaves me starving and ravenous for food - mostly junk food. And I realized after I plateaued in loosing weight - I needed to start to watch what I am eating, fully aware that I still need to take in a decent amount of calories.

So how did I change? I realized that around lunch time, I was starving - and not just for lunch - for snacks and treats. I needed a way to satisfy both a new to eat lunch and a new for the sugar that my body was burning through.

Solution: protein shake...with a twist.

Sara's satisfying protein yumminess:
8 oz Light Vanilla Silk (soy-milk)
1 banana
2-3 strawberries (if in house)
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 scoop GNC Chocolate Lean Protein
4ish ice cubes

It has both the chocolate factor and the filling of a lunch with fruit and a hint of peanut butter. Making for an all-around filling lunch

Still - we will all get cravings, moments where we fill our blood sugar drop. Here are some tips to fight the urge to eat a bag of Cheetos when that happens.

- via Food Network..

Grab Some Gum
Looking for something to mindlessly munch? Pass on the candy and opt for sugarless gum. It keeps your mouth occupied and helps fight cavities when you chew after meals.

Sweet and Chewy
Instead of sugary taffy and candy, opt for a small handful dried fruit. The natural sweetness will curb sugar cravings plus the hunger-fighting fiber will help keep you satisfied.

Chocolate for Chocolate
Jonesing for chocolate? Go on, grab some chocolate! Instead of denying yourself completely, indulge in a measured 1-ounce portion for only 150 calories. Choose chocolate with the highest percent cocoa content for the greatest health benefits.

Searching for Salty
Instead of deep fried potato chips and cheese doodles, grab a salty snack that will do your body good. Salted nuts give you some healthy fat and protein and have much less sodium than chips.

Skip A Slump
When the clock strikes 3 p.m., steer clear of the drive-thru and vending machine. Beat an afternoon snooze with a nutrient-fill snack like a yogurt, trail mix, or HE-approved snack bar.

Craving Crunch
Salty fried snacks will leave you hungry (and with greasy fingers), snag some dry whole grain cereal for a more healthful and figure-friendly munchie.

Creamy Dreamy
When only cool and creamy will do, go for the smooth and tangy goodness of nonfat Greek yogurt. Swirl in a drizzle of honey, jam or natural peanut butter for some flavor.

Late Night Power
The best way to avoid eating late at night is to get in enough healthy calories throughout the day. If you do find yourself in the kitchen after hours, opt for low-cal healthy treats like frozen bananas and grapes or air-popped popcorn. Get more ideas for smart late-night snacks.

Warm And Cozy
If you know you’ve eaten enough but the urge for more strikes, sip on a soothing cup of herbal tea. It’s a calorie-free way to keep your mouth and hands busy.

Sloppy Seconds
Most of us eat too quickly no matter what meal it is. Before you go back for more, wait a full 10-minutes to decide if you’re still really hungry.

Jul 6, 2014

Pregnancy, Type A, Cancer Lite, and Travel Tips…

Special guest post by Melissa...

Our pregnancy was planned.  We did all the “right things’.  We earned our degrees, bought our home, threw ourselves into our careers, and traveled as much as possible.  With sacrifice and hard work, we made it.  And I can honestly say now that our family is exactly where we want to be.  It may look easy.  It surely was not.  And we know the truth.

I am a nurse in a pediatric intensive care unit, so having children for me was a very scary thing.  When everyone else wanted to know the sex, I just wanted to know that there were 4 chambers in the heart. 
I loved being pregnant.  There was just something surreal about housing another human.  I was terrified until the anatomy scan.  Sometimes I guess ignorance is bliss.  Knowing too much has been scary, but also really helpful.  Anyhow, at 20 weeks everything checked out.  There was no “it’s a boy” or “it’s a girl”.  It was even more exciting.  “Here’s the right ventricular outflow track, and the left.  The heart is on the correct side of the body.  Kidneys, yes there are two.  And there is skin over the spine.  Etc.”
Now we could go order the nursery furniture and feel the baby kick and plan our lives without a car in the world.  Until week 22 when Chris had to have surgery to remove a nodule in his neck that we noticed.  And then came week 26 when the ENT guy had us in his office and said cancer.  WTF.  Excuse me?  This was not in my Type A plan. 

For 15 days all we knew was lymphoma.  We didn’t know which type, there are more then 30.  I was happily pregnant and on the ground sobbing.  I wrote down everything we did those 2 weeks.  Lame things like ‘went to Lowe’s” since I was so scared that every time could be the last time.
Thankfully we learned the diagnosis had a 95 % cure rate.  Awesome.  We were so thankful for chemo.  “Cancer lite” as Chris began to call it to make it seem like no big deal, to help keep his pregnant emotional mess of a wife together.

He never needed the chemo.  We asked for another pathologist to review our slides.  I mean the first were read by the best guy in PA, at The University of Penn, but for shits and giggles, let’s just get another opinion.

We now go to The National Institute of Health every few months .  As it turns out, the Epstein Barr Virus, you know the one that causes mono, can appear as a form of lymphoma on slides.  Which means NO CANCER!  Apparently it never was.  Whew, what a relief and also a fright since we don’t know what to expect next.  So, now the NIH closely monitors him with blood work and CT scans and PET scans to be certain that it is just EBV and not Lymphoma as originally thought. 

At each follow up, we are in Bethesda a day and a half.  Our appointment begins at 7 am and ends finally at 3 pm where we hope to hear, everything is fine, see you in a few months.  The waiting in the middle of the day is the worst.  We sit in the cafeteria and Chris generally is quiet or focus’ on not being there (to say he hates hospitals in an understatement).  And I sit in the cafeteria typically fighting back tears because I think he thinks we will get bad news and that’s why he’s quiet.

Needless to say, lymphoma or not, I love this man.  And need him every day.  Our daughter does too.  We have be so fortunate to now have the team at The National Institute of Health on his case.  I have decided to make it my mission to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for all of those people that have not had our luck, and also for us just in case.


So back to how I began.  We had the good fortune of having the rug pulled out from under us.  And what it has done has brought us closer together, and has also made us 100 % confident in the lifestyle that we have chosen. 

Our daughter is now 16 months.  And a complete delight.  I will run a half marathon in November to raise awareness and funds for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and to challenge myself and honor my husband.  Please make a donation if you are able.  Or complete a fundraiser in our honor. 

Since I will run 13 miles, I leave you with this, which is only fitting given our dreams…13 travel tips with a child <13 months and my 13 reasons to run.

When traveling with a child: 
1. Always rent a house or a suite.  A baby in one room with you and the tv and the phone is not a good time. is  good site
2. If flying, choose flights that do not interfere with bedtime
3. Inside the airport take the baby in the ergo (you can walk through security with baby undisturbed, unlike the stroller) and also take 2 bags ( 1 bag for under seat and 1 for over…toys, diapers, wipes, snacks, a shirt for you, and outfit for baby) 
4. At the curbside, check EVERYTHING else 
5. If flying out of Philadelphia, use Winner Car Service, trust me…it’s basically a valet service so you cannot fuss with car seats and such at drop off or even better at pick up 
6. Don’t forget to pack the sound machine 
7. Consider rentals for baby gear where you are going (in Venice, FL we rented a Jumparoo for 2 bucks a day) 
8. The Graco Travel Pack 'N Play is lightweight 
9. Have diapers shipped to your location or pack in car seat travel bag if you are taking a car seat (again check at curbside) 
10. Locate hospitals and grocery stores before you go and take Benadryl and Tylenol in your carry on
11. Have fun 
12. Don’t overplan, be flexible, stick with your child’s home routine as much as possible and you will thank yourself in the end 
13. Bring a sitter, overlap vaca with friends, invite grandma, etc…after all it is vacation and parents could surely use a dinner alone

My reasons to run include: awareness promotion, self challenge, research money, self energy, weight loss, pride, an example for our daughter, strength physical and emotional, focus, dedication to the run and my husband, fun in a group, a new hobby, and a stress reliever.

Ways to donate: